Last year, Asus gave us the ZenBook Pro Duo. This laptop started a whole new design language for the laptop manufacturer.
It had a traditional main laptop screen and a smaller screen which was marketed for productivity. The screen was flush and although I liked it because of its productivity, I wished it would be raised.
Asus’ high end laptops have the Zephyrus brand name and they made ways of this design in 2017. They featured a new cooling system that lifted the laptop to dissipate heat.
The difference is that this Asus Zephyrus Duo has a second screen to boot.
|Zephyrus Duo 15 (GX550LWS)
|NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 2070 SUPER™ (LWS)
8GB GDDR6 VRAM (Boost Clock: 1390MHz, 90W)
|DDR4 3200MHz SDRAM
Up to 32GB (16GB on board memory)
|Backlit chiclet keyboard
Per-key RGB lighting
1.4mm travel distance
N key rollover
|2x M.2 SSD slot (NVMe PCIe) PCIe 3.0*4 512G/1TB
|Intel® Wi-Fi 6 with Gig+ performance (802.11ax)
*Bluetooth version may vary as the OS upgrades
|1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C with DisplayPort™ 1.4, Thunderbolt™ 3 and Power Delivery 3.0
2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type A
1 x HDMI 2.0b
1 x 3.5mm Microphone-in jack
1 x 3.5mm Microphone-in/Headphone-out jack
1 x RJ45
|2 x 4W speakers with Smart AMP technology
ESS, High res certified
|360 x 268.3 x 20.9mm
Asus Zephyrus Duo GX550 looks like any other Zephyrus gaming laptop from Asus. The top is a greyish metal and the bottom is plastic with huge rubberized lifts. There are vents on each side of the laptop for the hot components that we have on this laptop. It is also quite heavy at 2.4 kgs.
When you open the laptop, you are greeted with the pièce de résistance of this laptop. The second screen lifts up at an angle which is so cool. This display is similar to the one we saw on the ZenBook Pro, but in this laptop, it is raised. There are two main functions of this: Make it easier to use the screen and for better airflow.
The keyboard is recessed to the bottom just like on any other Zephyrus laptop. It has RGB which is quite cool to play with and has 3 levels of brightness. The keypad is on the right and using special firmware, you can activate a virtual numpad to use.
The 15.4 inch 1080p 240Hz main screen has minimal bezels which we are used to seeing on Asus laptops. There is no webcam anywhere which means you would need to purchase a separate one.
Fortunately, this laptop has plenty of ports. On the left, we have the power port headphone jack and a mic jack. On the right, we have two USB 3.2 type A ports and one USB type C port. This laptop has ports at the back: a USB 3.2 port, Ethernet port and a HDMI port.
I like the design of the Asus Zephyrus Duo gaming laptop. It does not have the raging gaudy design aesthetic that we are used to on gaming laptops.
The Second Screen
The standout feature of this laptop is the second display. Asus calls it the ScreenPad Plus and it is tilted at 13° to view content on it better.
It works like other ScreenPads that we have seen before from Asus. It is a 14 inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 3840 x 1100 pixels. However, it works best at 1920 x 550 due to scaling issues between it and the main display during extended display mode.
Just like other two screen laptops on Asus line, i found it most useful while working with it. I can research on one display while writing on the other. I absolutely love this and I wish more laptops had two screens since it makes me more productive.
However, the Asus Zephyrus Duo is a gaming laptop. This gaming laptop with a second screen can make a gamer more productive by using the second screen. Some games like Dying Light 2 use both screens for better immersion in games. You can also use it to engage with team chats or browsing while playing on the main screen. Twitch streamers will love this as they can keep broadcast controls on the second screen.
Apart from gaming, this can be a great laptop for someone who works with productivity apps. You could place your controls on the second screen and your 3D models run on the main screen. Programmers can use the main screen to see their code while they research and play music on the second screen.
The Zephyrus Duo is a best, no question about that. This laptop performs like a charm and makes my quad core Core i7 7700HQ laptop feel like a dual core laptop.
That is not a surprise since it has the latest high end specifications you can find on a laptop. It has the 10th Gen Core i7 10750H which has 6 cores which can boost quite high. The star of the show is the GPU, where it has the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q which makes it a fantastic gaming laptop. My unit came with 16GB of RAM which you can expand further and has a really fast 512GB NVME SSD as a boot drive.
First, the benchmarks. This laptop may have 6 cores and 12 threads but the Geekbench 5 scores (multicore specifically) are double my laptop which is great.
The GPU performance on Geekbench 5 shows how powerful that RTX 207 Max Q is, handily beating my 1050 in all areas (CUDA, Vulkan and Open CL).
Fortunately, Asus also put a very speedy NVME SSD on this laptop. The 512GB Western Digital SSD on this laptop has the fastest speeds i’ve ever used on a laptop and it shows on this benchmark. This speed results to very fast boot times, fast loading of apps and fast transfer of files to the drive.
The performance is generally excellent. This laptop never feels slow at all. Launching apps is fast, browsing is smooth and gaming is excellent.
This is a gaming laptop first and foremost and it has the specs for it. The 10th Gen 6 core Core i7 CPU paired with the RTX 2070 Super Max Q GPU deliver incredible performance in my testing.
First, let us talk about Asus software dedicated for gaming. They have a dedicated ROG key on top of the touchpad to access Armoury Crate. This allows you to change a number of things related to gaming. This includes changing power profiles (Silent, Performance, Turbo or Manual), changing keyboard lighting options,
Due to my limited time, I was able to play FIFA 19 and the perfomance delta compared to my laptop is very visible.
The Asus Zephyrus Duo was able to maintain 120fps while switching menus in FIFA while on the game, I was getting 170fps on ultra settings. When I switched from NVIDIA Optimus (where the laptop uses the integrated graphics to run the user interface to save battery) to using the discrete graphics to enable GSYNC, I got even better performance.
Although I was getting 170fps while still using the discrete graphics on FIFA in Optimus mode, this laptop became a whole other beast in GSYNC mode. I was able to get over 280fps on FIFA using the same Ultra settings. In reality, you never see the biggest difference even with the extra 100 frames per second, but it was great to see.
This laptop comes alive during gaming. I played this games on silent mode and i still got a lot of FPS. Switching to Performance and Turbo mode increased the frequencies of the CPU and GPU giving me extra FPS. However, the difference wasn’t too much to make it worth it because the fans are quite loud at that mode.
Not all laptops are perfect
As you may have noticed, I have gushed a lot about this laptop. I love the design, the main display, the functionality of the second display and the performance. However, it has its niggles just like any other laptop.
First, this laptop can be toasty. I do not recommend this to be used on your lap. Thanks to the thin profile and powerful components, this laptop can run pretty hot.
Secondly is the battery life, and I wasn’t expecting miracles from it. It has a 6 core 45W chip and a GPU that can easily pull 115W so yeah the battery life is short. Although it has a rather large 90W battery, I could barely get more than 4 hours of battery at the best power management setting. The charger is a 180W unit which is sufficient to power this game while doing intensive tasks.
The third demerit is the weirdest of all. Somehow, Asus forgot to put an SD or a microSD card slot on this laptop. I find it fascinating since this is a very powerful laptop that can be used by professionals for their work and that media is useful. If you are a video editor or a photo editor and you still want this laptop, you may need an external SD card reader dongle.
As I pondered about this laptop and its features, I was wondering who is it for. Then it dawned on me: The answer is in the name.
It is a Zephyrus laptop after all, and it is a gaming laptop first and everything second. As a gaming laptop, it is excellent. The 1080p 240hz display with 3ms response time is excellent for gaming. The software profiles allow you to tweak your gaming needs to your hearts content. The keyboard is great to type on and to game on and the RGB lights scream gamer aesthetic. It has a very powerful GPU and a high end CPU for the best gaming experience.
In conclusion, Asus’ intention here was to make a relatively thin powerful gaming laptop with a second screen and they nailed it. This will be appealing to creatives who are secretly gamers. They can work on their 3D models or videos during work hours and game when they reach home.